Husband Caught Spying on Wife's Email Charged With Hacking

By Andrew Moseman | December 27, 2010 4:28 pm

Checking your wife’s email to see if she’s cheating on you: It definitely makes you a snoop, and possibly a bad husband. But a hacker?

That’s the label prosecutors are trying to lay on Leon Walker, charging the 33-year-old man with breaking a statute that’s more normally applied to people who want to steal your credit card numbers or your identity rather than prove your infidelity. From the Detroit Free Press:

Oakland County Prosecutor Jessica Cooper defended her decision to charge Leon Walker. “The guy is a hacker,” Cooper said in a voice mail response to the Free Press last week. “It was password protected, he had wonderful skills, and was highly trained. Then he downloaded them and used them in a very contentious way.”

Mr. Walker is indeed a computer technician, but his defense rests on arguing that his wife had no expectation of privacy because he used the computer in question for work—it wasn’t hers alone. Furthermore, he says, she kept her passwords in a notebook next to the computer (Public service announcement: Don’t ever do this).

Those details will probably end up as a he said-she said disagreement. But back to the more peculiar matter at hand: Really? Reading your significant other’s correspondence isn’t just bad form and invasion of privacy, but hacking?

From the Free Press:

Walker’s defense attorney, Leon Weiss, said Cooper is “dead wrong” on the law. “I’ve been a defense attorney for 34 years and I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said. “This is a hacking statute, the kind of statute they use if you try to break into a government system or private business for some nefarious purpose. It’s to protect against identity fraud, to keep somebody from taking somebody’s intellectual property or trade secrets. “I have to ask: ‘Don’t the prosecutors have more important things to do with their time?’ “

Attorney Deborah McKelvy, who’s not working the case, made a good point, too: “What’s the difference between that and parents who get on their kids’ Facebook accounts? You’re going to have to start prosecuting a whole bunch of parents.”

Related Content:
Discoblog: Can Greasy Fingerprints on Smart Phones Give Away Passcodes?
Discoblog: What’s Easier to Rig—the U.S. Presidential Elections or a Slot Machine?
Discoblog: Gone Legit: First iPhone Hacker Hired to Create iPhone Apps

Image: iStockphoto

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Crime & Punishment
MORE ABOUT: crime, hacking

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